Bronze and Silver, But No Gold!

Angling press reports suggested that a few decent barbel were coming out of the River Trent, so after finishing work I drove the 40 minutes or so to a stretch on the ‘Middle River’ I would be joined later by a mate so I tried to fish an area where we could fish next to each other. This meant I settled into a couple of pegs that I’d not fished before, but they seemed like they’d seen little angling pressure.

I fished my usual tactics, trying not to catch loads of fish, but just the odd big one. Very little feed and big hook baits were the orders of the day. I lost a barbel straight after starting, to a hook pull, probably because I was using barbless hooks. I don’t normally use them, but I was expecting a few bream to show up in the night. Unhooking them would be far simpler using the barbless patterns I thought, but I do seem to lose the odd barbel on them.

Not very long after this, the tip started banging and bucking, but the lack of line peeling from the bait runner gave me a clue to the culprit, a decent chub around 4lbs or so in weight. That meant I’d avoided the dreaded blank. Twenty minutes or so later a ‘3 foot twitch’ left me in no doubt what my second fish of the night was. A barbel took a few yards of line, before plodding around sulking in the flow. That usually means a larger than average barbel has taken the bait. I quickly bullied it under the rod tip where it came into the beam of my head torch. At this point, my mate Matt and I, tried our best to knock it off the hook with the landing net! It was tricky landing it in the shallow, rock strewn water, but despite our attempts, we soon had the barbel resting in the net.

I had no Idea of the size until I tried to lift it on the mat. I could tell then it would go well over double figures. When it was laid on the mat l could see an immaculate bronze summer barbel. Almost scale and fin perfect, it seemed criminal to bundle her into a weigh sling. I did just that though and the scales read 12lbs 12oz, a lovely start to my Trent barbel campaign and a fish that will certainly be over 13lbs in the Autumn.

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After the barbel the only action was from bream. They were lovely chunky bream of over 5lbs in weight. You could hardly call them a ‘nuisance’, but all too soon the sky started filling with light as a hot day was about to begin.

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After a quick trip home to swap my tackle, I walked my local river before the sun became too hot. Under some bushes I could spot the odd big roach and I just had to try for them.

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Steady feeding of casters soon had a shoal of roach darting about for freebies and a few of them looked 2lbs or more. Unfortunately I caught their smaller shoal mates of around 12oz – 1lb, but they were stunning chunky roach which looked like they had been freshly minted from silver and ruby’s.

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I kept persevering though, and just as the sun was becoming too warm, I hooked into a big old roach. It instantly dived for weed, but steady pressure did it’s job and turned her. It looked that I was winning the battle when a stray piece of floating weed caught the line. This gave the roach the opportunity it needed and as it boiled on the surface, the hook pinged free and a big old roach sulked into the weed beds, not to be seen again.

There went the golden end to my day, but being so close to home I was soon back for tea and medals. Bloody roach fishing!

Summer Stalking

I know I said I wouldn’t return to my local river roach hot spot until the Autumn, but after a walk down the river I was bursting to get back.

The reason is the river is so low and clear, it’s made fish spotting very easy. I walked past an area that I haven’t fished before whilst showing a mate around the river. It was well away from where I have caught all my other big roach in the past. Because of the low water, almost 90% of the river can be discounted for holding good fish, which just leaves the slightly deeper pools to explore. In one such pool, surrounded by thick weed, there was a shoal of roach, probably consisting of about 15 in number. Most were in the 10oz to 1lb+ size, but a handful looked around 2lbs. What really caught my eye though was the roach that was about 4 inches longer than the 2lb fish! What it weighed I didn’t dare to guess, but it was a massive roach and I had to return to catch it.

On my return the roach were nowhere to be seen. It was like a different river. After feeding casters into the weed, a few average sized chub came out to feed, along with one modest sized roach. I tried to catch the roach using my crystal dibber float tactics, with a caster on the hook and was soon rewarded with the roach which was about 14oz.

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This confirmed that my size estimates were about right so I patiently carried on feeding casters, hoping to lure the roach from wherever they were hiding.

Fast forward another hour and I’d almost given up. The swim now had 12 mad chub whizzing everywhere for my casters, when I spotted another roach that had simply appeared like magic! It wasn’t the big girl but looked around 2lbs so I was going to try and catch it. The hard part was getting it away from the chub. I noticed from time to time it would come close in to look for any ‘shells’ it had missed so I waited with my float rig over that spot. I’d gotten myself all ‘cammo’d’ up to avoid spooking the fish and this paid off when it came under my nose with no ‘bodyguard’ chub. I lowered the rig straight in front of her and she rose in the water to sip the caster in on the drop.

When I struck, all hell broke loose as the redfin thrashed about on the surface like a trout before diving for the weed beds. I went to give it a bit of line, but I’d managed to get the line looped around the handle! What a mistake, but luckily it didn’t cost me as everything held and I bundled another mint, specimen roach into the waiting net.

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The second I managed to isolate the roach from the chub, it took the bait without hesitation. That told me these fish were hardly, if ever, fished for. I just needed to find it’s big sister now!

A few hours later and the writing was on the wall. The majority of the big roach were hiding either in the weed, or another area of river. I’ll just have to return from time to time to see if they make another showing.

I consoled myself with catching some of the chub. It was the easiest fishing I’ll do, though the battles were great with the surrounding weed beds and light tackle. Most chub were the long, torpedo shape and I’d estimate them all at 4lbs and above.

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The best weighed 4lbs 15oz until I landed a very deep stocky fish that pulled the needle of the scales well past the 5lbs mark. A very big chub for these parts and it was most welcome.

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I think the final tally was 12 – 2 in my favour for chub landed to those lost, which was a great days fishing even without the roach. That’s over 50lbs of fish in a short session. I’d have never believed it if you said I’d be making catches like this 20 years ago. The only sad thing, in my opinion, is the river is basically a chub river these days rather than a roach river, probably thanks to the cormorants. Still, there are still specimen roach to be found. Lets hope that will always be the case.

 

Roach Magic

I’ve done very little fishing over the last few weeks, but this has been down to choice rather than not having any spare time.

Firstly, I noticed some of the chub I was catching were still in spawning mode. Maybe they were going for round 2 of spawning, or perhaps the ‘average’ spring weather had delayed their annual orgy a little later than normal.

Secondly, we then had some very warm weather. Internet reports were of fish, especially barbel, taking a long time to recover after catching them. I’d rather leave the fishing alone in such circumstances. Giving them a short break from angling pressure is sensible in my view while conditions aren’t the best for well oxygenated water.

I suppose the above also shows what a mockery the current river closed season is. If we’re going to have one, surely mid April to mid July will be better for the majority of coarse fish. And on the same subject, why do the EA cut weed in many rivers during the month of June? All those fish eggs and newly hatched fry seeking shelter in that weed will be simply washed away. No wonder the same EA have to stock hundreds of thousands more fish into those same rivers. I think it’s bizarre!!

Anyway, onto my fishing session. Big roach were the target and they were clearly visible in the crystal clear water on a local river. My loose fed casters and crystal dibber float approach soon had the shoal waiting for more free offerings and it was a case of picking the larger fish out of the shoal.

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The first fish was around a pound and had an unusual gold tinge to it. It was certainly a pure roach, just a slightly strange colour!

It was soon followed by another cracker, this time around double the size. It hadn’t quite filled out yet after spawning, but was still a stunning impressive specimen roach. I never tire of catching and seeing these impressive fish

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A short while later I was into big roach number 3. This fish, also around the 2lbs mark, came to the top, thrashed around and the tiny hook pinged out! Disaster, but the kind of thing that happens to every big roach angler. It’s part of the thrill of catching them, hoping the tiny hook holds.

After that loss, the fish became nervous and a couple of quick, tentative, missed bites were all that followed. Never mind, I’d had another cracking big roach session, but I won’t be back until they start to fill out again in the Autumn.

Small River Barbel

Well, after all the fish spotting I did prior to the ‘Glorious 16th’ true to form, the heavens opened and the rivers rose, turning a murky brown colour in the process! Having taken the  16th off work, I wasn’t going to waste it and set out to catch a barbel or two, instead of my intended target of rudd. I just thought with the conditions as they were, the barbel would be the better option. I met my mate Martin on the bank and we would share the opening morning as we have done many times in the past.

My fish spotting sessions would serve us both well though and we headed to a small local river, where I’d seen and fed a number of barbel a few weeks earlier. My tackle couldn’t have been much simpler. I used an Avon style rod with the quiver tip section in place. 6lbs line was then threaded straight through to a size 10 hook. I had an inline 1oz bomb about a foot above the hook, kept in place with a BB shot. On the hook I had 2 rubber casters, not hair rigged, and for feed, I trickled in hemp and casters under my feet.

I knew the barbel would come from good distances to the sounds and smells of my casters and sure enough, the tip wrenched round minutes after casting in and I was soon looking at barbel number one. It had a strange reddish colour to it’s lower half, but it was in fighting fit condition and gave a good account of itself.

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After lowering my rig back into the margins, 15 minutes later I was doing battle with barbel number two. This was soon bundled into my waiting net where I realised it was a bit weighty, so I thought I’d see what it went on the scales.

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It went 7lbs 15oz, which is a new river PB for me, well to be honest it’s the first barbel that I’ve weighed from the river! I used to target them in this particular area a decade ago, but back then they were too small to bother weighing. It seems they are growing nicely these days! It did have an unusual mark on one of its flanks. I don’t know if anyone knows what could have caused it?

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The other side was a lot better

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I carried on trickling my casters in the edge, having the odd bite from smaller fish, which thanks to my rubber casters I could just ignore, knowing I still had bait on the hook. After another short wait the tip banged round again and barbel number three was charging off down stream. With very little weed and no snags in the river, it was just a formality in getting it to the net, where I managed to bundle it in at the 4th attempt! As I went to lift the net out I realised why. It was a pretty heavy barbel and a bit too big for my landing net, I thought the one I’d brought would have been more than appropriate, but I’d misjudged the size of barbel in the river.

This fish pulled the needle on my scales round to the 10lbs mark exactly. I know it sounds ‘dodgy’ when a weight is bang on ‘the dot’ But it is what it is, and it was witnessed by a passing angler.

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I decided to pack up and head to see how Martin was faring. I knew he’d already taken a few chub to ounces under 5lbs, trotting casters under a stick float. These are cracking chub for this time of year as they are generally very lean after spawning, but I was feeling smug as I’d have the bragging rights for the day. My smugness was soon shattered by seeing Martin holding a larger barbel well over 10lbs!! He’d caught it on his chub gear and had no chance of getting it in his match style landing net. Luckily for him a passing angler lent a hand, and his landing net, before taking the photos too! What a fish for a tiny river!

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It wasn’t long before I was back to the same river, this time trotting for chub. I was hoping for some of the near 5lb fish that Martin had caught, but the best I caught was 4lbs 7oz. It was a fantastic days fishing though, stood in the water, teasing a stick float down to a shoal of chub. I had 15 good chub and plenty of others in the 1 – 2lb range. I even caught a baby barbel, my first of this size

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I’ve caught smaller barbel before, like gudgeon, but those were freshly stocked fish, on the Trent in the late 80s, probably the same big fish what we are catching today.

After a few hours trotting for those chub I’d had enough. I couldn’t lift the keep net out I’d caught so many so I put them all back, saving a couple in the bottom for a photo of the average stamp of young and old fish.

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One chub had a worrying wound. Again, I have no idea what’s caused this? It was a lumpy fish, but very lean after spawning.

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After the chub session, I waited until the river cleared to have some more barbel fun. This time, in the clear water, I could watch them feeding and my swim was soon a writhing mass of barbel, literally doing cartwheels to take my casters. I reckon if I’d have put my casters on the bank they’d have climbed out to eat them!

I waited for an hour before lowering my rig, the same as mentioned earlier, into the feeding barbel. Within 20 minutes I’d caught 5 fish and had more than enough fun for one day. If you are patient and get the barbel feeding and competing before casting in, catching them is a formality. What was good was observing them in the clear water. The way they feed, the way they take the bait, move in and out of the swim, plus many more things. I caught an old friend and a couple of chunky fish over 8lbs in weight. It really is a cracking barbel river and my swim was still full of feeding fish when I’d had enough.

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Treading Water, Blanks, Bits and Bobs

As I write this I feel like I’m treading water until the 16th of June, when we can fish the rivers and drains again. My local rivers (most within walking distance from my house) are perfect for spending the odd hour or more chasing all kinds of species. I’m still spending most of my spare time putting wardrobes, beds and plenty of other things together in one house and clearing another out, but I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. All these chores are very frustrating because at this time of year I’d love to be trying for a few tench, preferably with a whopper or two sprinkled amongst them! I have managed a few trips to the fishing bank though, including another blank chasing tench in deepest Oxfordshire.

I had a few spare days where nothing needed doing so I headed to the Linear complex of gravel pits. I wanted to catch a few tench, but I knew my old mate Dai Gribble was there so it would be nice just to catch up with him again. As per usual, I never had a sniff of a tench, but had a good catch up with fellow Tenchfisher Dai, and a few other anglers.

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I can’t wait for ‘Tench Time’ next year, I’ve had nothing but bad luck with the species for a few years. There’s a big head of good tench in the Linear waters, but in the handful of trips I’ve had there, I’m yet to hook a tench! I’ve caught big roach from both Hardwick and St Johns lakes while after tincas, but I try to catch those in the cooler months.

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This time I fished on Manor Lake, but it was dead for the time i was there so I came home after 24 hours. Even Dai managed only one fish from Oxlease Lake and he can catch big tench out of his bath! There was a good number of fish caught on Oxlease for those in the right pegs, but a change in the wind saw them drift away to the other side of the lake, where carp anglers were already fishing. And there lies the problem with fishing busy waters like Linear. Quite often you can see fish, but the place is so busy you can’t get close to them. This makes me wonder where to have next years campaign. Last years ticket gave me access to big tench which were in 3 large pits, but they were tough fishing, though there was always plenty of space from which to fish. There were also a few smaller pits where numbers of quality tench could be caught. Now you can see why it’s appealing!

Sywell is always special to me and is another option. I haven’t fished there for 7 years, and it’s tougher than ever, so I’ve heard, but there’s still some good tench to be caught from the place. The big attraction, for me at least, is that it’s almost devoid of anglers. If you see a tench roll you can move to it, or if a favourable wind is blowing into one bank, again, you can move there. While I was fishing Sywell my tench PB increased every season until it levelled out at 9lb 12oz.

Almost a double!

I caught quite a few 9lb+ tench from there, but always had to stop tench fishing towards the end of May as I was playing cricket a few days every week. With 20 / 20 hindsight I wish I’d carried on fishing into June as the tench bulked up and went over the magic 10lbs mark, but I didn’t realise just how tough the fishing would get. I always thought they’d be there in reasonable numbers.

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At least I should have more fishing time next year, because you can’t catch if you don’t fish! I did avoid the blank at Manor with a jack pike getting my hopes up by snaffling my worm! The swine also helped me make my decision to come home as on release, he thrashed hard and did a 360 degree back flip, but catching my fingers with his teeth in the process! A nasty gash was the result that wouldn’t stop bleeding, and it stung a bit too!

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The rest of the days were spent walking the banks of local rivers and that’s why I can’t wait for the 16th. The water was crystal clear in all 4 of the rivers that I walked. Most of the water was devoid of fish, a far cry from years ago when there were numerous roach and gudgeon to be found in all areas. I did see some fish that almost made me want to get the ‘shad’ gear out and start straight away!

I saw 4 shoals of big roach, small in numbers, but there were enough around the 2lbs mark to make my pulse quicken! I saw big dace that I never knew existed in one river and lots of chub with what looked like some very special ones. I was in an area that was so overgrown it’s probably never been fished. You can’t park nearby and its a job just to get to the river. When I got there I thought I saw a carp, but realised it was a chub! I don’t know how big it was because I don’t see too many big chub, never mind get to hook them so I can get a good idea of the size. All I can guess is it must be 6lbs at least, but hopefully larger! Despite me having bushes for cover and it not seeing me it was very skitty. It definitely knew I was there. Soon it was joined by 4 shoal mates and they looked a good size too. They all acted nervously so I think they’ll be tough to catch. It’ll be fun trying though!

I also saw large perch in 3 rivers so I’ll have to try for those. Again, some were miles off the beaten track, but these look like they’ll be far easier to catch. I thought I saw the mother of all roach, but I’m pretty sure it was a roach bream hybrid, though it will have to be checked out.

There were a few shoals of small to medium sized roach in 3 of the rivers too, which hopefully bodes well for the future. They were sunning themselves close to the surface, but behind one shoal lurked a dark assassin!

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This photo was taken with my camera phone, but I might venture out with my normal camera if we get a nice sunny day when I’m off work. It’s nice to see quality fish in clear water and i’d like to take quality photos of them too.

The only other fishing I’ve been doing is the odd evening on the local canal. I’ve just been fishing a small ground bait feeder packed with goodies and casting it halfway across. In just a couple of hours you can catch some lovely bream to over 4lbs as well as the odd silver bream and roach. Time prevents me from trying to get the full potential of fishing from this canal, but there are special fish to be caught.

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My mate Martin caught roach to 1.9 last year and I’ve heard of a few ‘2’s so that’s a possible target. I had a go for big roach in the canal a few years ago, but only caught them to around a pound, but I did only give it one evening!

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The chub grow big in the canal too. 7lb fish have been caught in the past, with a few ‘6’s reported. I’ve had the odd pleasure session after chub and have landed a number of 4lb fish and the odd one of 5lbs. Again, I don’t fish here half as much as I should, and most of the canal is neglected these days.

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Simple wagler and caster tactics produce most of the chub and roach. A lovely way to catch quality fish.

I might have the odd evening on the canal before the rivers and drains are fishable again, but hopefully I’ll be reporting some good fish on this page in the near future. I’ve put the leg work in and located some lovely specimens. Lets hope I can catch them, I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

All sorts From The Cut (And A Big Surprise!)

Finally, I’ve managed to find a few afternoons and a couple of spare days to wet a line. I didn’t want to travel far, so I fished lobworms on one of my local ‘cuts’ hoping for a big perch or two.

My tackle and bait was the same as it’s always been. 4lb line straight through to a size 8 to 12 hook, depending on how finicky the fish are. I use a small 2 Swan shot paternoster some 3 feet above the hook and bait is always the ever reliable lobworm. That’s as simple as it gets. I use light bobbins combined with alarms for bite indication. That way I can scan the water looking for fish activity, without missing any bites.

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I was worried I may be too late for the perch, as prior to spawning they seem to shut up shop and vanish. The first evening was promising though as I landed a perch of 2lb 11oz as well as a very fat bream that was almost 6lbs

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After that promising start though, it soon became apparent that I was too late for a big perch as my bobbins danced to the bites from all kinds of fish. Roach, bream, silver bream, roach x bream hybrids and lots of smaller perch all took a liking to my juicy lobworm hook baits

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I also caught a few of those rarest of fish from a South Yorkshire canal……Sea trout!! That’s right, I caught 3 sea trout and I know mates who were fishing the same water caught a few of these too!! How strange.

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The biggest problem has been the amount of jack pike that take the worms. I’ve not encountered these before on worms, but everybody was getting plagued by them this season. There must be a good head of them in the canal. Lets hope the balance of predators isn’t shifting from big perch to lots of small pike.

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On my last attempt for a big perch, in mid April, I sat biteless until well into the afternoon when a dog walker shouted over from the far bank. He told me there was a big pike sat in the margins on his side of the canal. When I enquired how big, he said it was ‘as big as his dog’…..which was a labrador!!! When perch fishing I always have a lure rod stashed in my holdall, so I reeled the worms in and went to the far side of the canal to see if I could catch this ‘dog’ of a pike. After 30 minutes of flinging my lures everywhere, I’d not seen ‘the’ pike, or any pike. I’d not had a follow or anything. I wondered if I’d been had or not!

I returned to base and carried on with the worm fishing and caught some perch around a pound plus a nice chunky roach. In the warm weather and clear water, a carp could be seen cruising over my baited areas and it looked a good size too. As the light faded and I struck into a jerky bite, I thought this is what I was attached too, as it was a lump of a fish that I couldn’t do much with. It stayed deep and every time I got it close in, it would power off to the other side of the canal. After this process had been repeated 3 times, it came to the surface on the far side where I spotted the shape of a pike. Thinking I was playing one of the troublesome ‘jacks’ I gave it all the 4lb line could give, but I was struggling to do much with it.

Eventually, after a good few minutes, a very fat pike squeezed into my 30 inch landing net, complete with my lobworm hooked in the scissors of its jaw! It was here that things went a bit strange. I thought I saw another fin in a strange place on the pike. It was only when I tried to lift the net all hell broke loose. There were actually 3 pike in my net! A quick inspection revealed a couple of red, battered looking males that must have stuck to the female, during the fight, like glue! I was gobsmacked and could only just lift the net out of the water.

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I quickly weighed the males before putting them straight back. This was because I’ve heard it said that they don’t usually weigh much more than 6lbs. These males went 5.14 and 8lb 1oz, so I suppose thats not bad for a male pike (I think)

Then I weighed the big girl before taking 2 quick photos. She went 20lbs 15oz which is a cracking pike from a canal, although I didn’t catch it how I’d have liked to. I wonder if it was the pike that was “as big as a dog” It was certainly fat enough.

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And with that fantastic, but bizarre capture, my perch season is over (I think) and it’s time to target other fish and take on new challenges. I’ll leave you with one last photo of a silver bream and a roach x bream hybrid, as many people confuse the pair for each other. After catching both on my worms, I couldn’t resist taking this photo, though the fading light makes the subtle differences harder to spot.

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Ending The Season In Style?

Is it just me, or do the last few weeks of the river season fly by in a blur? All those plans I had will have to wait for another few months at least.

With spare time at a premium this year, I managed to sneak in a last gasp evening session just before the March 14th deadline. I wanted to do battle with a barbel so I headed for the River Trent, despite the freezing overnight temperatures. When I arrived at my chosen stretch I was surprised to see the river a couple of feet up, with a good bit of colour too. The temperatures weren’t favourable, but the water levels were. At least I had something to give me hope! Those hopes were almost extinguished by the bailiff who arrived out of nowhere.

He went on to say that no barbel had been landed from the stretch for a while, despite plenty of anglers targeting them. This made me change tack slightly. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, I fished a couple of big baits right in the edge of the river, just a few feet from the bank. All kinds of negative thoughts clouded my head, but I was just happy to be in the fresh air, having time to reflect, whilst having a nice mug of coffee.

Those tranquil thoughts were interrupted as my downstream rod was yanked round by a barbel,. By the time I picked up the rod I think it was on it’s way to Gainsborough it was running so hard! Rather than pump it back against the heavy flow, I walked downstream with my landing net and soon landed a beauty of a winter barbel. As I struggled to lift it from the water I realised that it was obviously well into double figures.

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When I placed it on the mat, I noticed that the hook had fallen out in the net, which shows how small things can make the day a success or not, fish wise. Just before that last cast, I noticed my hook wasn’t as sharp as it should be, so I changed it. With the new sharp one falling out in the net, would the blunt hook have had such a good hold? Would it have been the one that got away? Of course, nobody will ever know, but it’s nice to think these small things make a difference.

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The scales gave a pleasing weight of 13lbs 7oz which more than made me happy, especially as everyone else was struggling. I stayed on into dark, despite the temperatures falling to freezing. As I sipped the last dregs of coffee from my flask, the upstream rod started bucking in the rests and I was doing battle number two. Sadly this wasn’t to be. A grating sensation could be felt in the fight as the line rubbed against a snag. After a few seconds, a feeder whizzed upstream as the hook link parted. I threw the rod in the car and packed the rest of the gear away. It had been a bittersweet ending to the season………Roll on June the 16th!!!!

Roach Magic!

After getting back out on the bank and catching some nice chub, I decided to get out again as soon as possible. Taking advantage of a spare afternoon, I went to get the chub tackle out of the garage, but noticed it seemed a bit milder. I checked the temperature on my phone and noticed it was 9 degrees, up from the 4 / 5 we’d had for the last few days. I decided to push my luck and see if a big roach or two would have a feed. Living in a river they’d have to feed sometime, so I took a chance.

After a quick drive to the tackle shop to buy a pint of white maggots, I was soon teasing my crystal dibber down a stretch of a small local river. After a dozen or so trots without a bite, I moved to another area, choosing a nice steady glide.

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The first few runs through saw me get the bait just tripping the bottom, on the next the float jabbed under. A steady sweep of the rod saw it take on a sweet curve as I hit into a decent fish. After a lull of a second or so, the ‘jag jag glide’ sensation told me I could be attached to my intended quarry. With the fish being about 15 yards or so downstream, I walked slowly towards it to reduce the chances of a hook pull and make the fight a shorter one. I was greeted by the sight of a large silver shape holding itself across the current, like a grayling uses its sail like fin to its advantage. I now knew I was playing a large winter redfin and I tried my best to keep calm. A tiny size 22 hook and 0.9mm line were all that was keeping me in contact with my prize. Luckily for me, everything held firm and I landed it at the first time of asking.

I laid it on the mat and knew that it was over the magic 2lbs barrier. The question was by how much. First I took a quick snap on my camera phone before sending it to my mate Martin.

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The scales hovered just under the 2lbs 3oz mark so I settled on an ounce lower. I placed it back on the mat and marvelled at one of natures finest, a mixture of silver flanks, marked with tales of near misses on its way to the legendary 2lbs size. There was the winter sheen on the top half of its flank, like a shot of electric blue painted on its scales. The fins were blood red and the orange eye was straight out of a textbook. What a fish it was, and not from one of the famous chalk streams, but from a river right on my doorstep. I felt a lucky man to have seen such a creature up close.

After a few more traditional photos of me holding the fish, I let her go, hoping her and the small number of shoal mates she swims with carry on avoiding predators for a few more winters to come. The rest of the afternoon was spent chatting, mainly on the phone to Martin. Roach trips for the future were planned plus I didn’t need to carry on fishing. My day had been made already.

A couple of days later on my day off work, the temperature had shot up to 14 degrees. Martin text messaged me asking if I was fishing for roach in such favourable weather, but I was on such a roll I’d gone fishing for a big winter barbel. Like all good runs, this one came crashing to an end as the rod tips remained motionless all day. Maybe I was pushing things too far, but after the previous two afternoons can you blame me?

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Reliable Chevins Get Me Back In The Groove!

After an absence of almost 3 months I was finally able to wet a line. I’ve done all the jobs I can do in my house, I just need to finish a few things off after the plumber has been……However, there has been more sightings of Lord Lucan than my plumber so, after another ‘no show’, I thought ‘sod it’ and decided to go fishing! I just hope moving into my new house and renovating the other doesn’t take as long!

Anyway, back to the fishing. Temperatures had plunged to well bellow freezing at night, and were forecast to reach about 5 degrees in the day. A biting wind would make it feel much colder though. The only species that I thought would give me a realistic chance of getting a bend in my rod were either chub or pike. I fancied a more roving kind of session so I chose the chub.

There’s a few local rivers really close to my home that offer a good chance of a chub or two, but sadly none seem to produce any really big fish (by modern standards anyway) Still, today was all about getting my string pulled so I bought a loaf of bread, then headed to the river.

The river was a lot lower and clearer than I’d imagined. This, coupled with the fact that most of the vegetation had died, led to me fishing a lot finer than normal. 3lb fluorocarbon hook links were teamed with a size 16 wide gape hook. A small cage feeder carried some mashed bread and a pinch of flake was squeezed onto the bend of the hook.

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I dropped into a classic ‘Crabtree’ swim, some slack water behind a raft of dead weed. After a few casts and 45 minutes, I received my first indication. I left things for another 10 minutes before this time the tip wrenched round. Battle commenced with a heavy weight plodding around, but not really testing my tackles limits. Soon, a big pair of white lips surfaced and I scooped chub number one into my net.

It looked an old fish with a mish mash of colours along its flanks. It was very broad across the back though so I decided to weigh it. At 4lb 10oz, it was a good fish for my area and a great way to blow the cobwebs off.

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After moving swims, I had an hour or so without any action so I decided to try trotting a float. I couldn’t help but think my constant trickle of mashed bread would have some chub waiting for more, but fishing a static bait meant I wasn’t covering much water. This proved to be a good move because straightaway I was into a fish. This was an average sized fish of around 3lbs. I placed it in a net because I wondered if there were any more willing to feed. I soon had my answer as another lump of a chub joined it in the net.

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This was another solid, broad fish so I weighed it. This time a weight of exactly 5lbs was recorded, a monster for my area, and from such a tiny river. On the next trot I was in again, but luck wasn’t on my side this time as the hook pulled just before I caught sight of it. After this I received no more bites, despite covering a lot of water. I returned the chub and returned home to think the session over.

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Despite being happy at catching on such a cool day, I wondered if I’d fed for another hour or so before trotting, or rested the swim for a while after each fish, I’d have caught more. The lost fish showed me there were more fish in the swim, but if you’d offered me three prime chub before starting, I’d have bitten your hand off. I just hope it’s not another few months before my next trip!!!

 

A Review of 2015 And A Different 2016!

2015 was a bit of an up and down year for me, fishing wise that is!

The downs were that Sway Lakes, my favourite venue for some peaceful specimen roach fishing, just didn’t fish very well at all. In the few trips I had there I still landed some nice fish, but not the numbers of 2lb fish I’d caught in previous years. I never came close to seeing a 3lb + redfin, of which I’d been fortunate to catch 2 the previous year. Most roach were caught at night too, which was a change.

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I did have the heartbreak of losing a very big perch at the net, but was lucky enough to catch it just before it spawned at a weight of 4lbs. What a perfect example of the species it was.

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As the end of the river season approached, I tried for chub on a local river, but only caught the same fish twice. This lead me to have a closer look at the river in the summer which was an eye opener. There weren’t many fish in the river, but some were very big for the area. I might have a go for those in the future!

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I also fished the River Frome for the first time ever. I landed a string of grayling, but not the hoped for 3lb+ monsters. A number of fish in the 1-2lb bracket made for a great days trotting though, before heavy rain killed sport for the day!

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The period that bridges the end of winter and the warmer weather always throws up conundrums on what to fish for. For 2015 I chose to target some perch I’d seen in a local canal. Some great sport followed with numbers of 2lb+ fish, quite a few that made it over 3lbs, plus a cracker of 4lbs 1oz. Terrific sport on my own doorstep. Everything was caught on link legered lobworms, except one 3lb+ stripey that fell to a lure. Simple, quality fishing.

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In spring I tried for a double figure tench from Bawburgh Lakes. After a fact finding first week on the place, which led to a couple of fish to over 8lbs, the rest of the spring was written off as I broke my ribs in a comedy fall.

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I was in too much pain to fish effectively and found out the hard way you don’t bounce when you fall like I did a few years ago! I met some great guys on the place though and had the pleasure to photograph my mate Adam with a huge tench of almost 12lbs!!!

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I had my annual rudd fishing trip into the Fens. The fishing seems to get tougher with each passing year, but the bars of gold still put in an appearance every now and then

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I had a couple of trips to the Hampshire Avon where I targeted the big roach, but caught many more dace!

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Autumn was the highlight of my year though as I found a shoal of roach in a local river that had me foaming at the mouth. Being right on my doorstep I could fish for them when I wanted and soon racked up some stunning catches. Many fish were landed over a pound and a half, with 5 landed of 2lbs and above. 4 of these were landed in one afternoon and is a catch I may never repeat. This would be a special catch on a southern chalk stream, but these were from a tiny northern river!

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My year finished off with a few trips for barbel. The middle and tidal Trent was fished with good doubles landed from both areas of the river

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This leads me right up to today where I’m now struggling to wet a line. As I type this, I’ve had no time at all for fishing in 2016. The reason is I’m moving into a new house with my girlfriend and we’re renting a couple of houses out. This means many, many jobs need to be done, things moved from one house to another, loads of things need to be thrown out and much, much more! It’ll be worth it in the end, but this year could see many more short, local trips made instead of the trips down south. When I get time I can get back to normality, but this will be in a few months at least. Still, as you’ve read above, there are some hidden jewels to be found locally. Let’s hope I find a few more in 2016! Tight lines to everyone out there that reads this blog, and may your PBs be smashed. Happy 2016!!!!